Tag Archives: Sienna Films

Aml Ameen, Mouna Traoré and Ronnie Rowe Jr. set to star in CBC’s The Porter

From a media release:

The first round of casting for CBC and BET+ original series THE PORTER (working title, 8×60) has been confirmed, with Aml Ameen (I May Destroy You, Yardie), Ronnie Rowe Jr. (Star Trek: Discovery, Pretty Hard Cases) and Mouna Traoré (Self Made, The Umbrella Academy) to co-star in the 1920s drama. With the series set to start production in Winnipeg, Manitoba later this spring, more additions to the cast will be announced in the coming weeks.

Inspired by real events and set in the roar of the 1920s, THE PORTER follows the journeys of an ensemble of characters who hustle, dream, cross borders and pursue their ambitions in the fight for liberation – on and off the railways that crossed North America. It is a gripping story of empowerment and idealism that highlights the moment when railway workers from both Canada and the United States joined together to give birth to the world’s first Black union.

Ameen will portray ‘Junior Massey,’ an intelligent, smooth, ambitious and fearless risk taker and war veteran employed as a porter with the Transcontinental Railroad; alongside Rowe Jr. as fellow porter ‘Zeke Garrett,’ Junior’s friend and war buddy, who is calm, thoughtful and persistent to a fault in his fight for integration. Traoré will play ‘Marlene Massey,’ Junior’s wife who works with the Black Cross Nurses, an offshoot of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association, risking resources and reputation to help her community and reach her full potential.

Set primarily in Montreal, Chicago and Detroit as the world rebuilds after the First World War, THE PORTER depicts the Black community in St. Antoine, Montreal – known, at the time, as the “Harlem of the North.” They’re young, gifted and Black, from Canada, the Caribbean, and the U.S. via the Underground Railroad and through the Great Migration, and they find themselves thrown together north and south of the color line, in an era that boasts anything is possible – but if change isn’t coming for them, they will come for it. By any means necessary.

A CBC and BET+ original series, THE PORTER is originated and created by Arnold Pinnock (Altered Carbon, Travelers) and Bruce Ramsay (19-2, Cardinal), with Annmarie Morais (Killjoys, Ransom, American Soul), Marsha Greene (Private Eyes, Ten Days In The Valley, Mary Kills People and Aubrey Nealon (Snowpiercer, Cardinal), and produced by Winnipeg-based Inferno Pictures Inc. and Sphere Media’s Sienna Films. Morais and Greene are showrunners and executive producers. Charles Officer (21 Thunder, Ransom, Coroner) and R.T. Thorne (Blindspot, Utopia Falls) will direct the series, and are executive producers. Pinnock and Ramsay are co-executive producers. The series is written by Morais, Greene, Andrew Burrows-Trotman, Priscilla White, Pinnock and Ramsay, with R.T. Thorne participating in the writers’ room. The series is funded with the support of the Canada Media Fund and Manitoba Film & Music and is distributed internationally by Abacus Media Rights (AMR) and Sphere Distribution.

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CBC and BET+ greenlight The Porter (working title), an original drama about railway workers in Canada

CBC, Canada’s public broadcaster, and BET+, the preeminent streaming service for the Black audience, are partnering on original series THE PORTER (working title, 8×60) from Inferno Pictures and Sienna Films, which has been greenlit for 2021/22. Originated and created by Arnold Pinnock (Altered Carbon, Travelers) and Bruce Ramsay (19-2, Cardinal), with Annmarie Morais (Killjoys, Ransom, American Soul), Marsha Greene (Private Eyes, Ten Days In The Valley, Mary Kills People) and Aubrey Nealon (Snowpiercer, Cardinal), THE PORTER is set in the roar of the 1920s and follows the journeys of four ambitious souls who hustle, dream, cross borders and confront barriers in the fight for liberation – on and off the railways that crossed North America. Morais and Greene are writers/showrunners on the eight-part series, with Charles Officer (21 Thunder, Ransom, Coroner) and R.T. Thorne (Blindspot, Utopia Falls) set to executive produce and direct. Pinnock and Ramsay are co-executive producers.

The first season, set primarily in Montreal, Chicago and Detroit as the world rebuilds after the First World War, depicts another battle as it ripples through the Black community in Little Burgundy, Montreal – known, at the time, as the “Harlem of the North.” For the American and Canadian men working as railway porters, it’s a fight for equity and dignity. For the women in their lives, facing sexism and colorism, it’s a movement to claim their independence and identity. They’re young, gifted and Black, in an era that boasts anything is possible, and if change isn’t coming for them, they will come for it. By any means necessary.

Inspired by real events, THE PORTER is a gripping story of empowerment and idealism that highlights the moment when railway workers from both Canada and the United States joined together to give birth to the world’s first Black union.

A CBC and BET+ original series, THE PORTER is originated and created by Arnold Pinnock and Bruce Ramsay, with Annmarie Morais, Marsha Greene and Aubrey Nealon, and produced by Winnipeg-based Inferno Pictures Inc. and Sphere Media’s Sienna Films. Morais and Greene are showrunners and executive producers. Charles Officer and R.T. Thorne will direct the series, and are executive producers. Pinnock and Ramsay are co-executive producers. The series is written by Morais, Greene, Andrew Burrows-Trotman, Priscilla White, Pinnock and Ramsay, with R.T. Thorne participating in the writers’ room. The series is funded with the support of the Canada Media Fund and Manitoba Film & Music, and is distributed internationally by Abacus Media Rights (AMR) and Sphere Distribution. AMR and Sienna Films brokered the partnership with BET+.
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CBC greenlights Sort Of, from creators Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo

From a media release:

CBC has greenlit new original comedy SORT OF (8×30) from Sienna Films (Trickster, Cardinal). Created by Bilal Baig (Acha Bacha) and Fab Filippo (Save Me) and starring Baig, SORT OF is a big-hearted series about Sabi Mehboob (Baig), a fluid millennial who straddles various identities from sexy bartender at an LGBTQ bookstore/bar, to the youngest child in a large Pakistani family, to the de facto parent of a downtown hipster family. Sabi feels like they’re in transition in every aspect of their life, from gender to love to sexuality to family to career. The half-hour single-camera comedy begins production in Toronto today.

In addition to Baig, the cast includes Gray Powell (Hudson & Rex, Designated Survivor), Amanda Cordner (Baroness von Sketch Show, The Expanse), Ellora Patnaik (Kim’s Convenience, Schitt’s Creek), Grace Lynn Kung (Transplant, Star Trek: Discovery), Supinder Wraich (The 410, Crawford), Kaya Kanashiro, Aden Bedard, Gregory Ambrose Calderone (This Movie is Broken, Salvation) and Alanna Bale (Cardinal, Killjoys).

When Sabi’s best friend 7ven (Cordner) presents them with an opportunity to live and find themself in the “queerest place in the galaxy,” Sabi instead makes the decision to stay and care for the kids they nanny after their mom has a serious bike accident. Do they regret it? Sort of. A coming-of-age story, SORT OF exposes the labels we once poured ourselves into as no longer applicable…to anyone. A show about how each and every one of us is in transition. Sort of.

A CBC original series produced by Sienna Films, SORT OF is created by Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo, who also serve as showrunners and executive producers. The series is written by Baig, Filippo, Jenn Engels, Nelu Handa and Ian Iqbal Rashid, with Filippo and Renuka Jeyapalan (Kim’s Convenience, Workin’ Moms) directing. Sienna Films’ Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny are also executive producers.

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Comments and queries for the week of May 15

I was crying through the last season of Cardinal and blubbering so hard during the last episode (rather incongruous for a murder mystery, I know). I’m glad that it wasn’t a tidy ending in that Delorme does end up going and Cardinal just starts on another case. I understand the actors would willingly return if there is a chance for more stories. I hope it happens. —John

I loved this show from the first episode in Season 1. Billy and Karine are unforgettable as Cardinal and Lise. I love them both. The music, the scenery, the shots … it was a treat to watch and I looked forward to every episode. Farewell, parting is such sweet sorrow.  Hope to see Karine again soon, but don’t expect that Billy is going to leave Denmark/Norway anytime soon. At least we had him for four [brief] seasons. —Judy

Canadian TV at its absolute best and on a par with Motive. I’m sad it has come to an end but how many more deranged serial killers could there be in Algonquin Bay?! Still, I’ll miss the scenery and stellar cast. —Paresh

On one level it was a shame the TV show attempted to blend the novels together. Each book alone could have been one season! On another level, some of the scenes in the novels couldn’t be filmed, right? But this show did an amazing job of bringing the books to life. Damn, I don’t want it to end!! —Stephen

Will miss this hauntingly beautiful show; maybe, just maybe, they can muster up another season or movie. The scenery’s too beautiful to waste, along with the fabulous leads. One can hope. —D Mac

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Farewell, Cardinal

This Monday night, a Canadian television series says goodbye. After four seasons, Cardinal ends, closing a chapter on some truly groundbreaking TV.

I was a fan of the Cardinal from the very beginning thanks to reading and loving the source material written by Giles Blunt years ago. The tale of a small-town Canadian cop solving crimes? I was all in. But would a television adaptation work? How would a lead character that was so in his head translate to the small screen?

There are a lot of folks to credit with how it was done, from Season 1 writer Aubrey Nealon, to actor Billy Campbell, director Podz, Sienna Films, and executives at Bell Media. Instead of going inside Detective John Cardinal’s head, we stayed outside, the camera coming in close on Campbell’s face, reading what was there in his expression and in his eyes. The same goes for Detective Lise Delorme. Karine Vanasse, and the creative folks get kudos for breathing life into this feisty, fantastic cop. I can’t imagine two actors more suited to the roles they were cast in. Re-reading the novels, which I will do this summer, means I’ll picture their faces as I scan the pages.

Northern Ontario—and the weather than comes with it—has played a huge role in Cardinal‘s storytelling, reflecting the changes in season in this country and adding another layer (pun intended) to each episode.

Back in 2004, Corner Gas debuted. It changed the way we looked at ourselves on the sitcom front, and proved Canada could do comedy just well—and I’d argue better—than the U.S. Now, with Cardinal Bell it has been done with the drama genre. I’m a huge fan of Nordic Noir—crime dramas set in Scandinavian locales—and Cardinal deserves to stand among the very best of those. And, I’m hoping, Cardinal will inspire more drama like it to be created in this country.

Thanks to Billy Campbell, Karine Vanasse, Glen Gould, James Downing, Kristen Thomson, Deborah Hay, Eric Hicks, Zach Smadu, Alanna Bale and the rest of the cast for bringing these characters to life in such a convincing way. Thank you to Aubrey Nealon, Sarah Dodd, Patrick Tarr, Jane Maggs, Gemma Holdway, Naben Ruthnum, Patrick Whistler, Alison Lea Bingeman, Jennica Harper, Russ Cochrane, Noelle Carbone, Aaron Bala, Shannon Masters, Penny Gummerson and Jordi Mand for writing such wonderful scripts. Thank you to Podz, Jeff Renfroe and Nathan Morlando for your directing. And thanks to the crew, producers, executives and everyone else who made Cardinal happen.

I’m going to miss Cardinal, but I’m so glad it was made in the first place. It’s hard to make television in this country, and even harder to do it right.

Cardinal did it right.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail